Gregg Wallace tells how he hit the jackpot with his fourth wife

Gregg Wallace made two stipulations when his young, fun, sexy girlfriend Anna told him she didn’t want to be ‘messed around’ but wanted marriage and children. 

‘I said, “I wouldn’t, at my age, choose to have children, but I am in love with you and if that’s what you want I will do it happily with you,”’ recalls Gregg, who’s 57 now. ‘But I had two conditions. 

‘I said, “I am not happy swapping my young, fun, sexy girlfriend for an exhausted mum, but if that’s what you want I want to get help in.” The other condition was, “I want to have a fortnight’s holiday with you every year without a baby.”

‘Normally at my age, your children are grown up and you get your wife back. I’m going to be in my 70s by the time our son Sid is 20. It makes me smile now, the two conditions I had.’

As well it might. Today Anna, 35, has a ring on her finger (they married in 2016) and Sid is two-and-a-half, but she and Gregg have managed only a ten-day break in Ireland since his birth.

Gregg Wallace, 57, who lives in Kent, with wife Anna, 35, and mother-in-law Rina, and father-in-law Massimo, 64, is returning to screens with a new series of MasterChef: The Professionals

Gregg is the sort of obsessively organised type who can’t go on holiday without, he says, scheduling in advance ‘which days are sunbathing, which days are going out to see things. Are we doing a drunken lunch or a drunken dinner?’

But when he set down those conditions to his young, fun, sexy wife-to-be he hadn’t factored in the stuff life throws at you. Anna had been suffering with undiagnosed endometriosis – a painful disorder in which tissue similar to that which lines the womb grows outside it – since the age of 16. 

Her pregnancy exacerbated the condition so, when Sid was nine months old, she had to have a hysterectomy and part of her intestine removed, during three operations.

‘When she went in for the first operation I was sitting in a hotel bedroom by the phone waiting for it to be over so I could call the hospital,’ says Gregg, who was filming MasterChef at the time.

‘That was scary, very scary. She was in the operating theatre for three hours. She lost a lot of blood and was in pain so she was in intensive care for three days.

‘We’ve had a tough time – well, Anna has had a tough time. Of course, because the operations were so huge it meant intimacy stopped between us for a while but there was always love and affection.’

You probably need to know Gregg, who returns to BBC1 on Monday with a new series of MasterChef: The Professionals, to appreciate what this says about his depth of feeling for his wife. 

He’s a perfectionist (‘I’m CDO – it’s like OCD but I need things in the correct order,’ he jokes. ‘I like structure. I like regular patterns. I like symmetry. I like clean surfaces. I like order’) but was never much of an in-sickness-and-in-health-until-death-us-do-part sort of chap.

Gregg (pictured) was warned by his shrink that he would never find happiness, if he kept picking women like he picked cars

Gregg (pictured) was warned by his shrink that he would never find happiness, if he kept picking women like he picked cars 

He’s had more wives and girlfriends than most of us have had meals at swanky restaurants, although his first marriage to Christine 30 years ago lasted barely long enough to get stuck into the starter, ending after six weeks. 

Next he was married for five years to pastry chef Denise, with whom he had children Tom and Libby, now 27 and 24. 

Wife number three was Heidi, now 39, who he met via Twitter. When they separated in 2012, just 14 months after their wedding, he began dating leggy, beautiful women who made him feel, he said, ‘like riding in my Jag with the roof down’ when he walked into restaurants with them. His shrink told him he was never going to find happiness if he kept picking women like he picked cars.

‘The reason I had so many girlfriends was that I was always looking for somebody,’ he says. 

‘I think it’s an absolute game of chance. What are the chances of finding somebody who you’re not only attracted to and makes you feel comfortable and happy, but is actually looking for what you have to offer? What is the chance of that happening? I really did hit the jackpot this time. 

I’ve found a woman who doesn’t want me to change 

‘But I do worry that I won’t be around forever to look after Sid and his mum. That’s my great fear. There’s a huge age difference and, obviously, I’m not going to be around for Anna’s later life.’

Last month Gregg was apart from Anna filming MasterChef when Sid developed a worrying rash. His mother-in-law Rina, 61, and father-in-law Massimo, 64, who share their family home in Kent, were away at the time too. ‘It was scary,’ says Gregg.

‘This rash spread around Sid’s body really quickly. Anna got an appointment for him to see the doctor. He was allergic to something. 

Gregg adores his in-laws, who Anna asked him to meet the first time she stayed over with him. Pictured: Gregg with Anna and their son

Gregg adores his in-laws, who Anna asked him to meet the first time she stayed over with him. Pictured: Gregg with Anna and their son

‘The doctor said, “If he gets a temperature, it could develop into something else. Don’t wait. Phone an ambulance.” But it was OK because by lunchtime the rash was going and Sid didn’t get a temperature, so the relief… the relief.’

Gregg dotes on his son, much as he does his grown-up children, who he brought up when his marriage to their mother ended. They were both at Sid’s birth. 

Gregg met Anna via Twitter when she sent a tweet asking if a recipe he’d cooked with duck and rhubarb actually worked. He looked at her picture and thought, ‘Oh my word, you’re a pretty girl’ so took her out for dinner. 

‘She asked him to meet her parents the first time she stayed over with him. ‘I said, “Oh, that’s nice.” She said, “Well no, actually, they really want to meet you.” I was only Anna’s fourth boyfriend and this is the first time she’s ever left home.’

He took them to the swanky restaurant Le Caprice where Rina, ‘who’s a bigger chatterbox than me, hardly said a word. She was just staring at me because I was the bloke off the telly and she was a MasterChef fan.’


Gregg’s happy family life is all the more special because his childhood was horribly dysfunctional. When he was 14 and his parents divorced after years of drunken rows and affairs, he discovered his real father was actually his mother’s lover. 

He says he loved his mum ‘to bits’ but she was never much of a mother and by 15 he was living alone, having dropped out of school. The greatest support he had was from his grandad Sid. ‘He was a big family man with a huge heart,’ says Gregg.

When it came to calling their son after him, Anna wasn’t sure as she didn’t love the name, but she knew it was important to Gregg. ‘Then Sid was born and I said, “Does he look like a Sid?” and she said, “Yes, he does.”’

He adores them both. ‘It’s a wonderful, happy home environment with Anna’s parents there, my daughter Libby, and Anna. It’s f***ing fabulous. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Massimo and Rina are golden people. 

‘The sun shines in their hearts. They are the loveliest, the warmest – just ever so Italian. Everything is family. Everything is food. I go home and there’s good food and bottles of wine or a glass of grappa. You sit around the table and you chat.’

Gregg is, yet again, in a hotel room working when we meet on Zoom. He’s been filming MasterChef: The Professionals, which moved to BBC1 from its BBC2 slot last year in the middle of the pandemic. 

Host Gregg and judge Marcus Wareing were ‘chuffed to bits’. ‘We thought it may have just been moved because there was a shortage of programmes being made,’ says Gregg. ‘But it did really well so it’s staying there.

‘MasterChef: The Professionals is the most extraordinary show. It doesn’t have the same laughter and it hasn’t got the same sense of fun as the original MasterChef or Celebrity MasterChef, but look at the quality of the dishes. I look at the food and think, “This is just extraordinary.”’

Gregg, who’s lost 4st since those ‘miserable’ picking-women-like-he-picks-cars days, continues to have a passion for food. He missed restaurants terribly in lockdown.

‘I had a massive panic attack. A rash came out over my legs. I’ve never not worked. But once I stopped panicking, I had a wonderful time at home.

‘I did the shopping. I made lunch for the family every day. I had bath times with Sid every night. I walked with Anna every day. I was there with Sid when I wouldn’t have been. 

‘We’d crawl around the bedrooms or wherever he wanted to go. I had such a good time. It wasn’t just the baby. I’ve never had time with family like that. I’ve never had time off.’

He pauses for a moment. Laughs. ‘Although I didn’t really give myself time off.’ Instead, he developed Show Me Fit, his new diet and fitness plan, with the motto ‘being good most of the time is good enough’, which is weirdly apt for anything with Gregg’s name attached. 

Anna helped with the recipes and his daughter Libby helped him film hundreds of recipe and workout videos. ‘Of course I wanted to get back to work. I wanted there to be some kind of normality but I loved, loved, loved being at home.

‘This is the first time I’ve found someone who actually thinks that who I am is nice and good, and doesn’t want to change anything. It’s the first time ever – and, believe me, I’ve been looking. I did a lot of looking.’

We know, Gregg, we know.  

MasterChef: The Professionals starts on Monday at 7.35pm on BBC1.